MPs pledge to fight for hospice funding

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TWO SUFFOLK MPs have pledge their support to St Nicholas Hospice Care after visiting Bury St Edmunds for a guided tour of the facility.

David Ruffley and Matthew Hancock were taken around the hospice for more than an hour by chief executive Barbara Gale and chairman of the board of trustees Alistair Robinson.

During the visit they were shown the Sylvian Ward inpatient unit and met hospice staff including clinical services director Jackie Saunders, finance director Julie Roy, voluntary services manager Emma Page, fund-raising manager Kevin Clements and Charles Amoah, the hospice chaplain.

After the tour, Mr Ruffley and Mr Hancock spoke to the management team about what lay ahead in terms of funding for the much-loved hospice.

Mr Ruffley said that hospices all over the country would have to find up to 20 per cent of effiency savings but that the average patient would not notice any changes to the service.

He praised the hard work of the team of volunteers at the hospice who deal with everything from patient care to the accounts and finance side of the organisation.

Mr Ruffley pledged that he would not support any changes that would harm the funding of the hospice.

He said: “The first time I came here was in 1996. While the buildings have stayed the same the services that are offered are radically different – they offer a 21st century service.

“In the 15 years from when I came here first and how I have seen it today it has certainly kept up with the times. We will both be keeping an eye out for its NHS funding.”

He added: “I do not want to support any system that is going to have a negative effect on this hospice and we need to go back and speak to our colleagues in the health department.”

Mr Hancock said: “The service that is provided here is excellent and awareness of what they do here is very important to ensure that people know about the service that is on offer, and because they rely so much on the genorosity of Suffolk people. I had heard very good things about the hospice and all of my high expectations have been met by seeing the extremely dedicated staff at work.

“They have a very good message to spread, the service and support they offer is exceptional.

“Many people have an extremely strong attachment to the hospice as they have helped them in extremely difficult times.”